What have you heard about the chakra system?
Versions of the story vary:
- Some say it’s an ancient and wise, Eastern conception of the body that has to do with human energy systems.
- Another group says it is a bunch of B.S., and since it cannot be physically measured by hard science we should ignore it.
- And folks like my father think it has to do with Wizards and their tomfoolery.
News Flash: Physicists such as Dr. William Tiller (Stanford scientist), and others, actually claim highly sophisticated physics/science can prove the existence of chakras, meridians, and even our life force.
This article is not going to try to convince you if chakras are empirically real or not.
We simply invite you to consider how conceptualizing the chakra system can help us view ourselves at deeper levels of introspection. Yes, more layers to the human condition.
What is a “Chakra” and what does yoga have to do with this mystical jazz?
Chakra, translates to “wheel” and symbolizes the wheel shaped energy centers of the body. The word dates back to the Indian Sanskrit tradition (enter yoga) in the Upanishads and Vedas.
Similar to other East Asian conceptions of the body, such as those involving Qi, this subtle energy field was a focal point of medicine early on.
Much of health in relation to the chakras, as in Qi, relates to balance. When disease comes, those who view the chakra system as a part of the body will try to pinpoint which chakra may be out of balance. 
How many Chakras are there?
It depends on whom you ask. Just like there is no such thing as real Hinduism (It is actually an amalgamation of many different paths related to the Vedas. The British wanted a way to name it and lumped them together into what we know today as “Hinduism.”), there is no one definitive rule stating how many chakras there are. However, the common system that has been accepted in the western world is that there are seven chakras existing from the root of the spine (tailbone) to the crown of the head. 
While some may dispute how many there are, this article does not think the number is the crux of the issue. Again, when looked at as a metaphor for the human existence, the system of seven chakras has been a sensible division that many have had success with in the past. You can visualize a straight line of energy with each of the wheels from the tailbone to the crown of your head.
Using the seven chakra system: [1, 2]
- Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)
- Third Eye Chakra (Ajna)
- Throat Chakra (Visuddha)
- Heart Chakra (Anahata)
- Navel Chakra (Manipura)
- Middle Sex Chakra (Svadhighthana)
- Root Chakra (Mudlahara)
Can I feel the energy field (the force)?
YES, however… this is subjective. Some people do feel tingling at different chakra centers at different points in time. You are not “less intuitive” or “less spiritual” if you can’t feel them. That being said, experienced meditators and yoga practitioners have attuned themselves to sense their subtle energies moreso than non-practitioners.
It is common to experience tingling in the chest (heart chakra) in moments of love, or to experience tingling at the top of the head when experiencing an out of body moment such as getting lost in music at a concert. 
What practical use could there be for the chakras?
For hundreds of years, and still today, some medical care systems use an energy/chakra conception of the body and have success. Advances in western medicine certainly have led to more proven treatments for some diseases, but it should not completely undermine the successes people have had basing part of their treatments on chakras and energy. 
Regardless of any direct physical benefits of from chakra-based treatments, there is value in what each one symbolizes. We will walk through each chakra and see how each one can be a gateway to our own introspection, growth, and wisdom.
The chakra system as a metaphor for deeper understanding
It takes us from our basic physical needs through our development of a sense of self, and then to a transcendental view of rising above an egoic conception of who we are. While this metaphor does take a developmental slant, it’s important to note that we are constantly in flux between our chakras and it’s not necessarily a linear process. Human beings are dynamic and hence our energies are as well.
Want to get more involved with working with your chakras?
In our last article there was a guided meditation we found on YouTube that involves cleansing the chakras. That may be a way for you to experience for yourself if the chakra metaphor connects with you or not.
As always, stay mindful my friends. Perhaps the chakra system can be a useful tool in doing so.
- Myss, Caroline. “PhD, Anatomy of the Spirit.” (1996).
- Paulson, Genevieve Lewis. Kundalini and the Chakras: A Practical Manual-Evolution in This Lifetime. Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd, 2002.
- Grof, Christina, and Stanislav Grof. The stormy search for the self. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1992.